This is the best post about better website testimonials ever. – Dan T.

Is this how your testimonials look?  Odds are that your site employs some version of testimonials like the subject of this post:

So and so is the best and “insert company focus here” and we were super extra ultra pleased with the job so and so did.  We have never been so pleased with another human in our experiences with “insert company focus here”

– RSI (random set of initials)

You may even have some faces to add credibility like these folks or these folks or even these folks:

happy customers - boy do they love you

So the $64,00o question is this:  What are testimonials supposed to accomplish on a website?

The Purpose of Testimonials vs the Reality:

Nobody Believes Your TestimonialsTestimonials are meant to do a couple of things:

  • Help establish trust with prospects that may have no experience with your business
  • Work to articulate your companies value proposition using existing clients as your messenger
  • Humanize your company or product and make your messaging more relate-able

This all makes sense – use prior customer experiences to add value, build trust, and sell more products/services.  But when a testimonial consists of a cheesy stock photo, a blurb clearly not written by a normal customer, and a set of random intials does it really do any of the above things?  I don’t think so…and neither do your prospects.  People don’t tend to declare that experiences were otherworldly when referring to HVAC service or filing bankruptcy.  Generally real people sound like real people…and so should your testimonials.

So my testimonials are awful – now what?

  • Like many recovery programs, the first step is to admit you have a problem.  Once you have come to terms with the fact that your testimonials aren’t helping (and may even be hurting), the next step is to implement change.  To get more mileage out of your testimonials consider implementing some of the following:
  • Use real testimonials – seriously…start asking your clients for REAL testimonials.  If you do a good job for your clients they can probably spare 2 minutes to write a few sentences.  If nobody will write you a testimonial maybe that reality warrants some deeper reflection.
  • Consider using video – this is a lot more to ask of your clients but video certainly brings out the human factor.  Nothing exudes the human factor like a real person saying real words complete with awkward silences and “uh’s” and “umms”.
  • Make top tier reviews easy – create a system to drive clients to your preferred top tier review sites (Google, Yelp, Urbanspoon, etc.) with an email or link on your site that you can send out quickly to those clients that will sing your praises.  Reviews on top tier sites carry weight, can carry over to your Google Places listing, and can be fed into your site using aggregator tools such as the one offered on Yelp!.
  • Develop a story testimonial – this requires more thought and work on your part but can yield big rewards when it comes to establishing trust and credibility.  In addition to a real quote from a real client, provide details of the unique situaiton or need addressed by your company or client.  Was your solution unique?  Did you do something other companies can’t or won’t?  Detail it here – provide supporting info as practical (everyone loves photos).

So get started!  Get rid of the default testimonials and start building confidence and trust with a fresh approach!

What are Social Signals, and Why do I Need a Good One?

Social signals are becoming a more important factor in search.  [Good] Back links have always been, and still are, of great value in SEO.  However, popular search engines such as Google and Bing don’t believe that a site can have a thousand or more backlinks, with no social signals.

So, how do I enhance my social signal?

It’s simple.  Basically you need to start with really good web content, this includes:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Press Releases
  • Articles

This content needs to be relatable, and informative.  However, it’s more than that.  You also want you’re your content to be engaging enough to be shared by relevant sites (by creating back links to your content), therefor sharing your content with more readers, and by being shared on one or more of the popular social media sites such as:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google +
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • Youtube
  • Pintrest

Social Signal | Atlanta Social Media Marketing

As of late Google has really been pushing SEO in the direction of better content, instead of keyword density and placement.  This advice needs to be followed everywhere, but especially when it comes to enhancing your social signal.  You want your readers and visitors to find the content that you provide to be useful and knowledgeable.  However, it needs to capture your audience enough to be shared with their friends and readers as well.  This is what creates the social signals that all search engines are looking for.

Google, Bing, and Yahoo have all agreed that the social signal that your site generates is of great importance.  “It’s the new SEO”.  Google has confirmed that they use Facebook’s and Twitter’s links in web search rankings, and the effect that these  links have on rankings has increased since the 2011 Panda and 2012 penguin updates.

So, what is the message here?

You need to create great content that is sharable, relevant, and engaging.  Having multiple back links won’t cut it in the new age of SEO.  Create content that readers will want to share, or recommend to their friends and audience.  Social networking and media is becoming very important in the world of SEO, you want to start generating your social signal strength now, if you haven’t already.